What’s Up 2020: Week 5

Week 5 of 2020! Man, time sure flies by. Probably because January was so immensely busy that I didn’t really have time to think about anything other than deadlines. It was kind of a mess. Because of that, its all kind of a mess and not a whole lot of stuff done but we’re slowing moving forward and I’m still relatively motivated as these little escapes have actually been helping with the de-stressing process.

READING

buried in my past

  • Buried in My Past by  Eva Mackenzie

Currently reading: When Stars Are Bright

Wrapped up the little bit I had left from the week before for Buried In My Past. Its a fairly decent novel. I’ll be posting up the review as part of a blog tour soon so I won’t go too much into it as to leave it for the actual write-up. However, it did hit a lot of things that I like about novel structure and narrative and it was well-paced. I had some little issues of figuring a part of the end-game but then I watch a lot of thrillers and overthink a lot scenarios so I usually catch those little details.

PLAYING

life is strange 2

  • Glass Masquerade DLC: Halloween, Heritage & Inception

Currently playing: Life is Strange 2, Overcooked 2

I had to get Glass Masquerade out of my system after picking up all the DLCs so I ended up finishing that one up as it matched the pace of what I needed to relax in gaming. After that, I had to start working on Life is Strange 2 as due to my work, recording has already been pushed back so needed to jump right into it expecting a short game but the episodes are fairly long, running at 3 to 4 hours each, so its a little harder to do them in a speedy way. Plus, the story is definitely heavier this time around, bringing up a lot of issues. Currently done with Episode 2 and its been a decent ride especially as it managed to link itself back to the world of Life is Strange and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.

WATCHING

Always Be My Maybe

  • Always Be My Maybe (2019)
  • Dog Days (2018)

Movie watching at a low this week. I needed to get some Valentine’s marathon viewings out of the way and ended up choosing these two films. Both are actually quite fun to watch but Always Be My Maybe is really hard to beat as it has Ali Wong who I truly love her humor and then a great performance from Keanu Reeves appearing in the most random way and having the most random rule as a fairly spontaneous character. There’s just so much to love about it.

BINGING

Next in Fashion

  • Master in the House (2019)
  • Next in Fashion (Season 1, 2020)

Currently binging: Eternal Love of Dream, Who’s The Murderer 5

As I try to keep on track with getting out TV binges, I decided to catch up on some more relaxing shows in the form of variety shows mostly. Both the currently binging are still currently airing so they only have limited episodes per week making Eternal Love of Dream and Who’s The Murderer 5 sitting in the background for a while as weekend binges.

I finally took the time to finish up Master in the House that I had started when it first aired last year in April or something but Mango TV decided to get back to uploading to Youtube but just one week later than when its watched on the app. Its a fun one since I’m a fan of the group NEXT and the masters are pretty good and happen to partially be singers that I love also.

And Netflix takes on the fashion competition world as they have Tan France and Alexa Chung host (and judge) the Next in Fashion competition, which seeks to find the Next in Fashion fashion designer who can win $250,000. That show is incredibly bingeworthy. I’m also working on a TV binge for this as I’m a big supporter of Netflix holding these international competitions using their platform for its potential to reach an international audience in various sectors.

That’s it for this week’s What’s Up!
What have you been watching/reading/playing/binging?

Double Feature: Always Be My Maybe (2019) & Dog Days (2018)

Valentine’s marathon is here! Well, at least some form of it! There will be TV Binges and some other double features lined up. However, its a much more casual deal this time around. Kicking off will be 2019’s Netflix romantic comedy release Always Be My Maybe and paired with 2018 romantic comedy Dog Days, because anything with dogs are going to be fun, right?

Let’s check it out!

Always Be My Maybe (2019)

always be my maybe

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Cast: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito, Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Keanu Reeves, Susan Park, Daniel Dae Kim

Everyone assumed Sasha and Marcus would wind up together except for Sasha and Marcus. Reconnecting after 15 years, the two start to wonder – maybe? – IMDB

Ali Wong is truly a fantastic comedian and while this is stepping out of the comedian path and into acting, Ali Wong and her co-star Randall Park both take part in penning the script for this romantic comedy. It probably is why the script itself has some very quirky elements that somehow all come together in a random way. Randomness can bring in spontaneity and its what makes this romantic comedy rather fun and unique. Sure, the story feels about the same if you strip down the storyline but because Ali Wong and Randall Park are quite decent comedians, they adds a little more humor to their roles and works in the rom-com world.

Its this randomness in the script that actually does end up being a fun romp. Just like adding in a random Keanu Reeves cameo that honestly was super funny and probably the best part of the movie as the whole exaggeration of how the upper class things are rather silly. The movie takes that effort to play both sides as 15 years later, the two characters Sasha and Marcus have changed from Sasha being a known chef and rich and Marcus still doing the same as before in a somewhat starving artist sort of deal. Its the contrast that also creates a few sparks.

Always Be My Maybe is a fun romantic comedy. Striping it down, the main story is rather predictable but its the little comedic elements of both Randall Park and Ali Wong that give this flick a lot of heart and laugh. Its a feel good movie and one that is rather unique. Plus, they do have a few other more comedic roles especially with Michelle Buteau who plays a supporting role here as Sasha’s friend who after watching The Circle US as the host definitely was nice to see her here.

Dog Days (2018)

dog days

Director: Ken Marino

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones

A group of interconnected people in Los Angeles are brought together by their lovely canine counterparts. – IMDB

Set up as movies like Love Actually with different people in Los Angeles connecting through their dogs, Dog Days is a decent offering. The stories involve some great casting that has to take on most of the fun elements of this film. Vanessa Hudgens plays a woman who finds an abandoned dog and through this ends up volunteering at the pet shelter and connects with the socially awkward owner who happens to have a crush for her. Nina Dobrev plays an uptight morning show host who ends up being paired with an ex-football player to lighten up the show and connects through their two dogs. While Eva Longoria’s character and her husband are adopting a new girl who isn’t connecting with them but does through a lost dog who happens to belong to the fourth character of a widower who loses his dog accidentally and a pizza delivery kid (Finn Wolfhard) helps him look for it.

All pretty normal stories but because the characters themselves are well-casted, it adds a little something to it. It has its fun moments and a lot of cute moments as expected when working with a bunch of dogs and then some pretty heartwarming moments as connections build and love sparks and the likes, as with most romantic comedies, right? Its nothing super special but it does still have that feel good element when the film ends and everything generally pans out.

That’s it for this double feature!
Our first Valentine’s double feature to kick off this year’s “marathon”!
I’m a bit not sure where this is going so I’m aiming for another 2 double features in this marathon with some other tidbits like TV binges and such. 

TV Binge: The Circle (Season 1, 2020)

The Circle (Season 1, 2020)

the circle

Host: Michelle Buteau

The Circle is a 3 week limited series social media competition with a social experiment central focus as different contestants living in apartments in one building communicate through social media only and try to gain popularity to get the top spot in the end to win $100,000. In the process, the lowest ranked players are at risk of being blocked where new players will enter to take their place. At the same time, players can enter as themselves or as catfish.

There are so many angles to look at this show. I’m not going to lie that going into this and watching a bunch of different people interact through social media is something of a cringey feeling as you never know who these people are. However, if The Circle does do anything well, its that every contestant (whether intentional or not) proves a few important points about the world interacting through a screen: the level of trust, the easily misinterpreted messages due to lack of interaction and of course, the judgement of a first impression/appearances and photos. Sure, its only 12 episodes and like 12 days or something that these people are together if they were the surviving initial group that makes it to the end and its not enough to truly know who these people actually are in real life but the fact that the show, as the audience observes them and their reactions in their own space, some of the people will change initial opinions. 

The first angle of the show is obviously what everyone goes into this for: entertainment. Its a competition so there will be tension especially as the viewers find their players that they want to win this and in the face of ratings amongst themselves and who gets eliminated, it builds fairly well. The Circle feels natural enough especially as the show goes on and the players settle in. The best moments are probably those where there are shocking moments of player reveals, especially for the catfishes. Plus, watching people react to what others say is pretty fun overall. Sure, some of the players have some big personalities and might even seem a bit annoying in the beginning but its funny how things change in the course of the game. 

If you look at this on the social experiment angle on what social media does to the society and how it builds up an image of what others feel is more accepted regarding appearances or even personality and other preset thoughts and prejudices that people build, it turns into a rather deep contemplation at the end as to whether what the catfishes were proving is a bad thing or whether if you connect with a catfish and its only the appearance that is fake means that it was all a lie in the first place.

Its interesting how we view social media and online interaction at times and for that, I’d say that on some levels, The Circle actually gives some room for contemplation of how online interaction does subconsciously and they did pick out a good group of players that showed a lot of angles of how people can view them or why they picked their catfish alias. If anything, The Circle has proved that the convenience of online interaction has both its pros and cons and highlights some stereotypes that people generally have. The Circle is a surprisingly interesting look at this through a rather entertaining game/competition. 

What’s Up 2020: Week 3

Week 3 of 2020 has come to an end and its been something of a weather bomb. Luckily, we didn’t lose any power so things proceeded as it should..mostly. I’m having some other issues that is somewhat hindering some writing and whatnot so its been a slower week than usual. Not to mention, the desire to sit in front of the computer has been a little less as Chinese New Year preparations started as well. Let’s see what’s going on!

READING

archie vol.6

  • Archie, Vol.6

Currently reading: Buried In My Past

After a few reading rushes, I decided to take a little break and read a graphic novel. The reboot Archie comics set like a graphic novel and with a somewhat darker story (still not quite as dark as the TV series) has been one that feels like a refreshing update to the characters, making the more modernized. There’s a lot to like about it as it is helmed by Mark Waid. Volume 6 is the last one that will be helmed by Mark Wait for these Archic comics but will be handed over to someone else for the next one. Review for this one coming up!

PLAYING

glass masquerade

Currently playing: Overcooked 2, The Pedestrian

Wrapped up the base game of Glass Masquerade on the weekend and have been debating getting the DLCs but its been kind of getting in the way of the actual gaming that I need to do to record the next Game Warp podcast. You can check out the review for Glass Masquerade as that’s already done. Its a bit short but the game isn’t too complex either.

The husband and I are still working on Overcooked 2. We usually stretch it out quite a bit as we only play on the weekends. I think we’re more than halfway done at this point. At the same time, I started up The Pedestrian which is an indie puzzle game that I had backed on Kickstarter 2 or 3 years ago which is finally getting released on January 29. As backers, we got the game in advance, which is great. I’ll be playing that and hopefully getting a review out for next week or something.

WATCHING

godzilla king of the monsters

  • Short Term 12 (2013)
  • Mike Birbiglia: Thank God For Jokes (2017)
  • Leslie Jones: Time Machine (2020)
  • Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018)
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Its been a tad stressful at work so I’ve been honestly just busy with that and not watching a ton of movies as they don’t work in companion to work as much, especially first time viewings. With that said, I like to watch/listen to stand-up comedies. I can’t say the two I chose were really my cup of tea but they had some good bits. While Short Term 12 got added into viewing list as it left Netflix Canada and that review is coming up in a double feature. Other than that, Deep Blue Sea 2 literally just got added to Netflix and of course, I had to see how bad it was. I’m not being negative but the original is one of my favorites so its best to keep the expectations low and it became as a monstrous weekend as we also caught up with Godzilla: King of the Monsters which is a kick-ass movie. It was so awesome!

BINGING

The Circle

  • The Circle (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, Ashes of Love

The Circle’s 3 week competition finally ended. I’m working on the TV binge for it as its an interesting little social media competition to talk about, both as a structure, the contestant choices as well as the mechancis as well as the concept of this being a social experiment which all has elements to talk about. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be opposed to another season of these. TV is fairly calm right now as I’m trying to do some wrapping up on different things and Who’s the Murderer 5 is currently ongoing so only updating an episode a week and Ashes of Love is over 60 episodes and I’m pretty much halfway and things are getting really good, so I’m focusing on that.

However, focus will be cut short when Eternal Love’s sequel, Three Lives Three Worlds: Pillow Book (also titled recently Eternal Love of Dream), starts up next week and well, Handsome Siblings got acquired by Netflix and is releasing new episodes on weekly basis. All very exciting things!!

That’s it for this What’s Up for Week 3!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

TV Binge: Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花, 2017)

Eternal Love

Cast: Mi Yang, Mark Chao, Ken Chang, Dilraba Dilmurat, Vengo Gao, Maggie Huang, Vin Zhang, Alan Yu, Lawrence Wang, Bambi Zhu, Wayne Liu

After a devastating war, the immortal tribe paid a heavy price to seal the demon lord. 70000 years later, in an attempt to re-seal the demon lord who broke free, Bai Qian was sent to the mortal realm. In the mortal world, she meets Ye Hua and falls in love with him after forgetting about her life as a goddess. Ye Hua gifts her the name of Su Su. Su Jin, who is jealous of Ye Hua’s love for Bai Qian, intentionally creates a series of misunderstanding between them and causes Bai Qian to lose her eyes. Thinking that Ye Hua has betrayed her, the devastated Bai Qian jumps off from the Zhu Xian Terrace. At her request, all her memories have been erased and she forgets Ye Hua. Hundred years later, the two meets again as deities. Another lifetime another world, Ye Hua recognizes Bai Qian but the latter remains indifferent. Three lives three worlds, her and him, are they fated to bear an entangling love? – MyDramaList

Eternal Love is currently available on Netflix (as on January 15, 2020)
You can also find it on Youtube via Croton Mega Hit Channel with English subs.
Below is the playlist:

STORY

ten miles of peach blossom

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Tang Qi and later translated, titled To The Sky Kingdom, Eternal Love aka Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms is the most watched Chinese Drama in China to date. The C-drama tells the story that spans over Three Lives, Three Worlds (as the Chinese title calls it) and as its about the love story that happens between the many trials and tribulations between Fox King’s youngest daughter Bai Qian and Nine Heaven’s Prince, Ye Hua. Their story is told over the events of the Sky Kingdom: Nine Heavens, Ghost Tribe, Kun Lun Mountains, Fox Clan and other fantasy lands as well as the mortal world. Suffice to say that, the story itself might sound a little back and forth with its focus on the three lives and three worlds for these two characters and their love stories.

eternal love baiqian

However, the story is done well that it gives room for each of the characters to grow and each love life in each world has their own depth. Plus, the supporting characters also have a good amount of entertaining filler to guide these characters. Between good and evil, love and trust, and the schemes and power balance, the story has a lot to love. It has its frustrating moments with some of the scheming characters but overall, its done really well.

LENGTH/PACING

ten miles fighting

Episodes: 58

58 episodes is the norm for a Chinese drama of this calibre. Anything set in the fantasy world and such always has the 50 or more episodes attached to it. Its something that doesn’t always work depending on what the story interpreted is. Surprisingly, while there are some small moments that feels like the plot stays or simply some characters being frustrating as times because of their stubbornness or whatever character trait (which I will talk about in the characters section below), the story does move forward.

It does so by giving it enough places to move around these fantasy worlds. Between the rigid rules of the royalties in Nine Heavens to the much more relaxed Fox Clan’s Fox Burrow  setting to the dark Ghost Tribe and the beautifully enchanting Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms owned by the Phoenix God, the story shifts from its political elements of war between good and evil to maintain peace and the romances and friendships that happen between the characters and with that, its own set of misunderstandings. There’s a decent amount of action scenes which are well-executed and the dialogue is done naturally, while giving it a good amount of space for building the chemistry between the characters.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

eternal love dilraba

If you haven’t noticed, characters and chemistry are my favorite parts of TV series and with Eternal Love and its 58 episodes and different worlds, we’re in for a ride in this section as there are some really good ones to highlight and talk about.

Bai Qian & Ye Hua
(and their 2 other lives/worlds)

eternal love 1

I’m not going to lie that its a little hard to totally figure out which romance this whole Three Lives and Three Worlds was initially for Bai Qian and Ye Hua but they do make an effort to point it out at the end which is pretty cool. There’s a lot to love about these two as their different romances each have a different sort of feeling whether its the type of love or the conflicts that happen that cause them to break apart and in the end, solidifies their love more by the end. Its the first time I’ve seen Yang Mi in this sort of role and she is so pretty in her various outfits and they match well with Mark Chao’s character in his various prince transformations. Mark Chao’s character becomes one that changes in his personality and not so much the lives prominently so its easy to quickly feel and connect with his character quickly.

Dong Hua Di Jun & Bai Feng Jiu

eternal love fengjiu dijun

While the main couple was done really well, this supporting characters of Bai Feng Jiu, the rare nine-tailed red fox niece of Bai Qian portrayed by Dilraba Dilmurat and Dong Hua Emperor Lord who is has lived so long that he has let go of emotions. These two are the focus of the sequel coming up this year. Suffice to say that they were done very well. Their romance is one that is not only fun because of Bai Feng Jiu who is a bit clumsy and naive but will do anything for love but facing Emperor Lord who seems to care but not reciprocate affections, it turns into a roller coaster of emotions that probably hits even harder than the main couple.

Li Jing

ten miles li jing

Li Jing is the second son of the Ghost Tribe Emperor and ends up taking over when his father’s war against Nine Heavens fails. He is a character that is one that isn’t very ambitious but at the same time, a rather frustratingly silly character as he constantly gets led astray by Xuan Nu, a childhood friend of Bai Qian who uses a prettier face to gain attention. Li Jing also is the first person that Bai Qian falls for romantically but due to Xuan Nu’s action, it causes them to break apart. Li Jing is not exactly a bad character. He actually fills up some of the spaces well as Xuan Nu is one of the “bad gals” who orders harm because of jealousy. Li Jing becomes a fairly tough character who stands up for peace and rights as the Ghost Tribe King and has a bit of character development that suits him well.

Bai Zhen & Zhe Yan

eternal love alan yu

I’m a huge fan of Alan Yu as an actor. There’s something very unique about him that I enjoy about him and as Bai Zhen (Alan Yu), the fourth son of the Fox King and the older brother of Bai Qian, he pops up occasionally in a very carefree and relaxed way randomly and yet him and his best friend (who seems like they have a special relationship) Zhe Yan (Ken Chang), a Phoenix Immortal both spend time together drinking peach blossom wine and playing Reversi and then randomly have arguments that makes Bai Zhen run off to his palace in the Northern Seas. These two are something of a comedic relief as well as surprisingly insightful guidance for all the characters and the myriad of dilemma.

There’s a ton of other characters that we could also talk about but I’m going to leave it at these top ones that truly appealed to me. However, one of the bad ladies in this one is the woman who loves Ye Hua called Su Jin and her role was to create a lot of the misunderstandings and misguidances that lead to a lot of the drama happening. As frustrating as her character was because she was able to get away with it because of her status, it was all merited because she was a character that had nothing to like.

OVERALL

Eternal Love is a much easier mountain to climb than expected. Other than the elements that I talked about for the story depth and the great fantasy world that is presented here with gods and fairies and spirits and a roundup of some well-written and well-developed characters, it also has some lovely visual effects. Every scene is done really nicely. Sure, some of the flowers might look a little fake in some scenes but overall, its done relatively nice for TV dramas. At the same time, as I was researching this up, the costumes are actually rather intricate with each one done by hand to show off the details for each of the characters plus all the sets were newly built to not have any replicas. Not to mention, the soundtrack here is amazing. Every song is so great that I almost wanted to share it all. Eternal Love is definitely one of the better Chinese dramas out there. Sure, its a bit long but it has enough content to make it really nice. If you watch the behind the scenes, its actually a pretty involved process between the actors and the director with how they work the script and how each scene is done. All things great for bingeworthy TV.

MAIN THEME

Double Feature: Super Monsters Save Christmas (2019) & My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever (2018)

The next double feature is a holiday themed children features! I don’t know when I started to get into the Super Monsters specials as I don’t watch the normal series anyways but they are a decent 20+ minute long. As for pairing it with My Little Pony, I actually do like My Little Pony, the old stuff and watched some of the newer specials as well so here we are (plus its pretty slim pickings for Christmas kids films that I haven’t reviewed on Netflix…).

Super Monsters Save Christmas (2019)

super monster save christmas

It’s Christmas Eve in Pitchfork Pines, and the Super Monsters are joining forces to deck the halls, find Santa’s missing reindeer and save the holiday. – IMDB

Super Monsters is honestly geared towards kids. Whether its the characters and their cutesy appearances to the dialogue that revolves around emphasizing the good values to have through the consequences what happens, its all about delivering a positive message (similar to a lot of other kids shows). Its a harmless movie this time about a neighbor (who we learned is related or friends with Santa Claus from last year’s special) who gets overzealous about his Christmas decorations and blows the power for everyone but of course, the Super Monsters try to fix it to soon realize after Santa finally stops by that someone has detached the reindeer and they run off to play hide and seek of all things. Of course, Super Monsters to the rescue again.

There is nothing essentially wrong with this one. It directs its attention solely to its intended audience. Its not quite the entertainment for parents perhaps but it does offer some nice lessons on Christmas and friendship and working together. It has a little bit of singing and music and stays pretty colorful and cheery with lots of Christmas-y things. I’m not a parent but for its length and its quick-paced plot points, it should grab a kids attention.

You can check out my review last year of Super Monsters and the Wish Star HERE.

My Little Pony: Best Gift Ever (2018)

my little pony best gift ever

Director: Denny Lu & Mike Myhre

Voice Cast: Tara Strong, Andrea Libman, Ashleigh Ball, Cathy Weseluck, Tabitha St. Germain, John de Lancie

In this one-hour Christmas-themed special, the Mane Six and Spike are each hoping to find the best gift ever for Hearth’s Warming. – IMDB

While I’m not a huge supporter of this new My Little Pony designs with giant heads and such instead of the sleeker design when I was a kid, these My Little Pony movie specials are actually pretty. It does feel like perhaps its geared kids a little older than Super Monsters above.

The movie feels like an actual story with the ponies changing tradition and deciding to do a Secret Santa gift swap. They obviously call it something else but I never quite realized how fun all the ponies have and its not some dumb down dialogue but it does work pretty well even if they do play with some movie references like their take of meshing Sleeping Beauty’s fairies with The Christmas Carol or whatnot. That’s just one example. Its all about the value of gifts and of course the best gift ever is defined here. If you watched some other My Little Pony shows or movies then you might already know what it is because its a big focus all the time.

This one was surprisingly fun to watch and pretty entertaining. Its still not exactly geared towards parents but more to keep kids attention but this is not for young kids so it has more complete dialogue and the music is pretty catchy. I wouldn’t mind watching more My Little Pony movies if its like this one (but then maybe I’m a bit biased).

That’s it for this kids double feature for the holidays!
Have you (or your kids) seen these two? Share your thoughts in the comments below to give a more accurate kids perspective on this one. 

Double Feature: Shazam! (2019) & Klaus (2019)

The next double feature is here! While an unlikely pair (to those who haven’t seen Shazam!), its actually both films set at Christmas time. Imagine my surprise when I went to watch a superhero movie (in the last remaining hours of the rental, might I add) to find that I had opened one fitting to the current movie theme this month. Catching up to 2019 movies while watching some holiday films, here we go!

Shazam! (2019)

shazam!

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Meagan Goode, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Ian Chen, Ross Butler, Jovan Armand, D. J. Cotrona

A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected super powers and soon gains a powerful enemy. – IMDB

I don’t really know the different superheroes and I’ve already mentioned it before too much. Shazam is one that I’m actually not familiar at all and when I realized that it was from DC, I kind of got a little worried. So far, my favorite movie experience has been Wonder Woman as everything else is a little bit of a mixed bag. Shazam got some pretty good reviews when it was released in theatres so I had it on my list since then to check it out.

Shazam is something of a breath of fresh air. It has some nice moments that feel parallel to some of the Marvel film scenes but, it also has a really nice comedy element to it that works really well with the age of the actors here and just really nailing that age difference and superhero responsibilities and all that fun bits about family and whatnot. It embraces the whole being a child and wanting to be someone different, bigger or stronger or whatnot and somehow as Shazam gets thrown this responsibility out of nowhere, its all a bond with his new foster brother to figure out what is the best way to approach this and all the fame that he has gotten because of it and how to find the balance of his real life. Zachary Levi as Shazam definitely takes it on with so much style and fun. At the same time, his foster brother is played by Jack Dylan Grazer who does a great job (just like he did in IT Chapter 1 & Chapter 2).

Mark Strong plays the villain here which does work. Superhero movies always have the not too threatening villain and here as Black Adam, he does have quite a nice overall appearance and vibe although he never feels like his threats are present enough since its more the second half of the film that the two collide together and then fight it through until the end.

Shazam! does follow the superhero formula but probably because it has that comedic twist and the whole age change between reality and superhero form that it adds a little more charm to the whole experience. There is this innocence and simplicity to Shazam and that works its wonders here. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies set during Christmas, giving it a somewhat alternate Christmas movie vibe, which gives it extra points.

Klaus (2019)

Klaus

Director: Sergio Pablos, Carlos Martinez Lopez

Voice Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, Joan Cusack, Norm Macdonald, Will Sasso, Sergio Pablos, Neda Margrethe Labba

A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions. – IMDB

Netflix has had its hit and misses but it really needs to get more of these Netflix Originals where its animated. So far, they have picked up some really nice projects with this one and of course, French-animation I Lost My Body (Review). I’m sure there are others but I still have a lot of Netflix Originals to catch up with other than you know, Super Monsters or something that I happen to keep watching during some kind of holiday. With that said, Klaus is a family animation which goes back to creating an original story of how the concept of Santa Claus started out in the middle of nowhere with a feud tradition between two families and a rich boy of the postal company getting sent to the middle of nowhere by  his father to find some worth. A scheme to boost the almost non-existent need and desire for the postal service  through the kids turns into something of a kind act leading to the quote and powers this movie: “A true selfless act always sparks another.”

Klaus might not sound very special or different as it piles on some rather similar plot points together but no one has really done the origins of Santa Claus (at least from what I know) and that in itself is rather fun and the story itself becomes a heartwarming experience of finding purpose and bringing together the society that was previously filled with hate that had no other reasoning than to keep up a tradition. It is filled with a lot of positive messages and the animation itself is absolutely beautiful to watch with a lot of charming and/or cute characters. Plus, there is some really great voice acting with Klaus voiced by the talent J.K. Simmons and one of the opposing families is lead by Mrs. Krum who is voiced by Joan Cusack, who has been frequently seen in Netflix Originals and very talented as well.

Klaus is a charming little Christmas movie addition for sure that will make it onto my annual line-up in coming years because its so fun to watch. If nothing else charms you, the little girl Margu voiced by Neda Margrethe Labba and there is one scene that always makes me so happy. A surprisingly wonderful film that you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two? Thoughts?